How SIPs Were Used to Achieve a Unique and Highly Complex Structure
Back in 2011, Elspeth MacNaughton was looking to refurbish and extend an old 1950s farmhouse. Little did she know at the time that her vision would soon be transformed into an architectural pièce de résistance: a modern spiral house with a central top-lit ‘courtyard’.
Elspeth approached the award-winning architectural team at ataSTUDIO, who put forward some ideas for the refurbishment and extension as she had requested. But since the work would be laborious (and therefore expensive), they also proposed a new build as a cheaper alternative, with potentially significant savings on VAT. The proposals were accepted and the architects got to work.
The Spiral House Design
Having worked with ataSTUDIO on a number of builds previously, we knew to expect the unexpected – and this new property was certainly no exception. Working from Elspeth’s original request to have a courtyard at the centre of the building, they devised a complex spiral house layout with a top-lit space at its heart to give the feel of a courtyard, but with a contemporary twist.
A number of specialist contractors and materials would be required to build such an elaborate structure. It was decided that SIPs (structural insulated panels) would be ideal for the frame of the spiral house, enabling complex folding flat surfaces to be created relatively quickly and easily. In fact, the SIPs part of the build was completed within just a month.
Render was originally chosen for the external envelope of the house, but as the build progressed this evolved into a handmade imperial-sized brick, which suits it perfectly. A natural sheet zinc roof with recessed guttering completed the outer shell, adding further beauty and durability to the building.
The interior is also stunning. Featuring a mix of bright white and natural finishes, it catches the light beautifully and captures the organic yet contemporary essence of the building as a whole.
This house cost exactly the same per m2 as two other very different houses that ataSTUDIO were constructing at the same time. The cost breakdowns varied dramatically due to differing construction techniques and client priorities. The lower price of this particular build can be attributed, at least in part, to the labour time that would have been saved by using SIPs to build the frame.
Has Elspeth’s spiral house inspired you to create something similar yourself? Whether you’re a self-builder, property developer or architect, SIPS@Clays can help you achieve a complex structure like this with the absolute minimum of hassle.